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Business & Economics Sustainable Development

Escape from Overshoot

Economics for a Planet in Peril

by (author) Peter A. Victor

New Society Publishers
Initial publish date
Apr 2023
Sustainable Development, Economic Development, Economic Conditions, Environmental Conservation & Protection
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price

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Earth overshoot will end either by design or by disaster. Which future should we choose?

EARTH IS IN OVERSHOOT. The juggernaught of economic growth rolls on, consuming the biosphere, breaking planetary boundaries, and stretching inequality and injustice to the breaking point. But does it really need to be this way? And if not, what are the options?

In Escape from Overshoot, celebrated ecological economist Peter A. Victor takes us on a grand tour of the overshoot crisis. From the history of economic thought through energy and material blindness, we learn how we got here and why collapse is inevitable unless we change course. But as the clock ticks, what pathways are possible and plausible? Victor surveys the alternatives — from green growth and doughnut economics to well-being, steady-state, and post-growth economics — and their limits. He then dives into what the latest and most sophisticated economic modelling tells us about whether we can intentionally shrink our economy and avoid collapse, all while enhancing human thriving and justice for all. The results are both surprising and profound.

Ambitious, measured, and accessible, Escape from Overshoot is a vividly illustrated guide to the past, present, and future of the human economic project and our place on planet earth.

About the author

Peter A. Victor, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at York University. He earned his PhD in economics from UBC and has worked for 50 years in Canada and abroad as an academic, consultant, and public servant specializing in ecological economics and alternatives to economic growth. He is the author of Managing without Growth. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Peter A. Victor's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Uses sound economics to map a path out of overshoot. Highly recommended.
—Herman Daly

An excellent primer on key insights and questions in ecological economics from a celebrated pioneer of the field.
—Jason Hickel, author, Less is More

Peter Victor provides a state-of-the-art overview of the drawings for the economic rocket humanity needs for a safe landing on Spaceship Earth. In our turbulent times, with multiple planetary boundaries breached and tipping points approaching fast, Escape from Overshoot provides the perfect launch pad for new economic thinking that reconnects the world with planet Earth.
—Johan Rockström, Professor, Earth System Science; Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; and co-author, Earth for All

The title of Peter Victor's important book says it all: the planet is in peril and a major factor is a global economy too big for nature to flourish. Human beings are animals and thus, like all other species, constrained by nature and nature's laws. An economy unfettered by the needs and limits of nature and propelled by a fool's goal of endless growth has created the twin ecological crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. All who care about the kind of world we are leaving to our grandchildren and what we can do to bring the economy into harmony with nature must read this vital book.
—David Suzuki, emeritus professor and grandfather

No one pulls it all together as well as Peter Victor. His Escape from Overshoot covers climate and other key issues with a compelling clarity. I highly recommend this book.
—James Gustave Speth, former Dean, Yale School of the Environment, and author, America the Possible

Victor draws a plausible pathway that nicely intertwines with a growing body of evidence and proposals for new economic models from across the globe. This book is timely and gives cause for hope!
—Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president, the Club of Rome, and co-author, Earth for All

Erudite and lavishly illustrated, Peter Victor's Escape from Overshoot is a sweeping analysis of the flawed economic mindset that has pushed us to the brink and an inspired prescription for the new economics needed to help pull us back.
—William Rees, professor emeritus, University of British Columbia, former director of the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), and co-author, Our Ecological Footprint

I own hundreds of books, all carefully curated. But I reserve one short shelf for books that I think everybody needs to read right away in order to grasp the human condition and what needs to be done. Peter Victor's Escape from Overshoot is now at the front of that shelf. It is clearly and entertainingly written and elicits an aha! on every page. Escape from Overshoot would be a great book on those merits alone, even if it weren't the key to our collective fate.
—Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, and author, Power

An absolute must read— I could not put it down and read it in one sitting. Peter Victor masterfully ties the threads of economic thought together to demonstrate why— and how— we can collectively do our best to avoid climate and ecological breakdown.
—David Miller, managing director, C40 Centre for City Climate Policy and Economy

Escape from Overshoot is a tour de force of the latest research in ecological economics from one of the top researchers in the field. In a highly accessible style, with a helpful figure or illustration on almost every page, Peter Victor explains how the current economic system works, how it has pushed us to the precipice of environmental collapse, and how a post-growth economy could pull us back from the edge.
—Dan O'Neill, Associate Professor in Ecological Economics, University of Leeds, and president, European Society for Ecological Economics

If you want to enable the next generation to build a successful future, ditch the textbooks from the past and get this one instead.
—Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D., founder and president, Global Footprint Network, and author, Ecological Footprint